Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Traveller

The first time he travelled through that tenuous and ephemeral temporal membrane he found himself among a flock of sheep in the middle of a wide open grassy plain with the sun beating on his bald head.

He asked the sheep which was nearest to him of the location and time, but it turned away from him; it was not apparently much of a talker. He asked the next one but it stared at him incredulously chewing the grass. After meeting with many similar and at other times incomprehensible replies he gave up and walked out from that white fluffy patch in the sea of green and started searching for more cooperative and comprehensible beings.

And thus it was that he came across the shepherd who was dozing in the shade of the single tree that blemished that otherwise greenish land. He woke up the man who was dressed sparingly in just a loin cloth fashioned out of some animal skin with a body of hair and a beard that reached to his loins which was quite possibly home to many vermins. The man woke up with a start and grabbed the stick lying next to him shouting in an incomprehensible language. The traveler irked as he was managed to keep up appearances and to calm this scraggy shepherd down. But here also the answers to his questions was just as incoherent as those of the sheep.

Infuriated the traveler walked away from the shepherd and searched high and low for something that had the decency to speak to him in his own language.

As he stomped around, the sky grew clouded and a heated argument took place in heaven. The light tired of being intangible and transparent had decided to become forks that raced through the sky and crashed down in chaos. Sound green with envy at light’s disobedience moaned and whined and shouted with God.

In all this ruckus, the traveler felt caught and scared. He was out of place. This single language, this single God, this single land was more than he could take. In fright, he quickly departed from his destination into the highways of time.

The traveler was of the ‘here’ and the ‘now’. The ‘here’ and ‘now’ of a thousand wars, a thousand problems, a thousand laments, a thousand Gods. He hated ‘here’ and ‘now’.

He wasn’t worse off. In fact he was in one of those ‘here’s’ that was faring very well. This particular here was respected for its wisdom, creativity and for its sheer bloodlust. Of the thousands of wars that were being waged almost half involved them. In a generation where every type of entertainment had been milked to its maximum, war was the new monopoly, the new horse races, the new reality. Drop a couple of bombs ‘there’, drop some slight innuendos in a speech ‘there’ and viola the bets were on.
The traveler’s father was in fact a general and enjoyed waging wars for reasons that he himself had forgotten. In fact the very latest war was due to the difference in opinion between the general of ‘here’ and the general of ‘there’ over the shape of a cloud. One had remarked that it looked like a rabbit while the other was adamant that it was more of an elephant than a rabbit. And thus the War of the Clouds began. The general sat in his room shouting orders through his phone; send a nuclear warhead to ‘there’, kill a 1000 innocent people ‘there’, rape some women ‘there’……

And in this chaotic ‘now’ people had lost their faith in a single God. They had realized that the burden was too much for one god to carry. Thus they invented a multitude of gods of varying physical forms and philosophy. Everyone loved their God and hated the others. They burned the apocryphal texts of the other Gods shouting that the others worshipped chaos oblivious to the fact that God in all his omnipotence was simply too chaotic himself to not cause chaos in the world.

Though a man of his times, the traveler was disillusioned.  He had thus built his vehicle of temporal and spatial transport. He wanted to be anywhere but here.

Once again he found himself among sheep, in the same place but there was something wrong here, he could feel it.

He doesn’t ask any of the sheep any questions this time around. The sheep are all chewing but they are not chewing grass for what is underfoot is not grass,rather it is something that is made to look like grass. Moreover the sheep aren’t real either. They are artificial, not alive, mere machinations. He disentangled himself from all that artificiality and walked around. Nothing was real, even the sky was a projection.

He came across a man who was sleeping beneath an artificial tree that resembled more of an umbrella than a tree. The man wore nothing but a loincloth of some silvery material.The man was also hairless from head to toe. The man became aware of the traveler. He opened his eyes and smiled. The traveler asked him some questions. It was evident that the man understood what was being asked but he didn’t reply, just smiled.

The traveler became aware of the silence that perpetuated across this artificial environment. He realized that this was a place where man had ceased all forms of communication. He felt the absence of all Gods. This was a time of atheism, of man making the sky and the sheep and the ground beneath his feet. In this time man didn’t need a God, he was one.

Depressed the traveler decided to leave. He had travelled both forwards and backwards in the highways of time. Nowhere could he find peace he sought. He realized that no matter what he was always a prisoner of his time. It was where he should be, reminiscing about a peace he never wished to have or could ever obtain.

- Rohith

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